ON THIS DATE (April 20, 2007)
The Red Sox got to closer Mariano Rivera, in stunning fashion,
scoring five runs in the bottom of the eighth to overcome a four-run
deficit, then held their collective breath while watching Hideki
Okajima, the stand-in for closer Jonathan Papelbon, solve A-Rod and
save a 7-6 win before a delirious crowd of 36,786 in Fenway Park.
Terry Francona's first inclination was to send pitching coach John Farrell to
the mound, armed with written instructions translated by assistant trainer Masai
Takahashi, on how to keep Alex Rodriguez from adding to his epic home run tear.
Moments later, after Okajima had retired A-Rod on a full-count, soft liner to
second and struck out Kevin Thompson, who had run for strongman Jason Giambi in
the eighth when the Yankees seemingly had the game in hand, Francona was out of
A rally that began with David Ortiz's double off former Sox lefthander Mike
Myers to open the eighth ended with three straight run-scoring hits off Rivera
from the bottom of the Sox' order, the supposed black hole of their lineup.
Jason Varitek's RBI single, which followed Mike Lowell's RBI base hit off Luis
Vizcaino, made it 6-4. Coco Crisp then scorched a ground ball down the
right-field line into the corner for a triple, tying the score, and came home on
Alex Cora's flare over a drawn-in infield.
The Sox, of course, have had more success against Rivera, who will be going to
the Hall of Fame, than any other team. No one who was there, including
Rivera, will soon forget the standing ovation Sox fans gave the Yankee closer in
the 2005 home opener, when the Sox received their World Series rings and Rivera
was reminded that the Sox had gotten to him in two epic games in the ALCS. Since
the start of the 2003 season, Rivera has blown 9 of 29 save opportunities
against the Sox.
The winning hit was Cora's second in two games. He tripled home the go-ahead run
Thursday in Toronto. He laughed uproariously when asked if he'd done that